Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks are set to face Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round of the 2016 NFL playoffs Sunday, but the Seattle quarterback was quick to praise his counterpart Wednesday.
According to David Newton of ESPN.com, Wilson said yes when asked if he would vote for Newton as the league’s MVP:
Yeah, I would. In terms of winning football games, [Carolina has] been able to win. They beat us. It’s one of the things you’ve got to give him respect for, all the hard work he’s put into it.
He’s one of the best players in the National Football League He’s a great guy. He does a lot of stuff with the community. He’s got a great presence on the football field. He’s been an exciting player to watch.
It is even hard for opponents to argue with Newton’s production this season.
He led the Panthers to the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 15-1 record and finished with 3,837 passing yards, 636 rushing yards and 45 total touchdowns. Newton also noted that the Auburn product “became the first quarterback to throw for more than 30 touchdowns (35) and rush for 10 in the same season.”
Were it not for Newton’s incredible season, Wilson may have actually played himself into the MVP discussion with 24 touchdown passes and one interception in his team’s final seven games. His production through the air helped Seattle overcome injuries to running backs Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls and win eight of its last 10 games after a disappointing 2-4 start.
Wilson got an up-close look at what Newton can do in Week 6 in Seattle when Carolina knocked off the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks, 27-23.
Seattle actually held a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter of that contest, but Newton led the Panthers on two touchdown drives down the stretch and found Greg Olsen with 36 seconds remaining for the winning score. It moved Carolina to 5-0 and made many around the league see Newton as a legitimate MVP candidate early in the season.
While the MVP is certainly a worthy accomplishment, both quarterbacks would likely rather win Sunday and keep their Super Bowl hopes alive.